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Opinion

PS4: Sharing, Streaming And You

Don't compress the streams.

If you had asked me two weeks ago what I thought the true potential of the PS4’s sharing features would be, I’d have likely replied “posting pictures to twitter” or “nothing yet, but YouTube uploading will be good when that becomes available”, completely dismissing what has become not only my favourite sharing feature, but one of my favourite parts of the PS4 – live streaming to Twitch.tv.

I would have never considered streaming before, and hadn’t really thought of it as a viable way to show the community a game before its release, but now I’ve realised the potential for not just me, but for you – we’ll be able to play games in front of your eyes as a companion to our review and give you all a better impression of how the game looks and plays. That’s something we’re going to start doing.

In fact, it’s something that I’ve been doing, albeit unofficially, over the past few days. I’ve streamed Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack and Resogun a few times and it’s always been a rewarding experience for me and everyone watching. Essentially, the PS4 gives us at TSA a way to easily show off your most anticipated games once the embargo lifts, quite literally with the press of a button.

sharemenu

You see, all you’ll need to do to start sharing on Twitch or UStream is click the Share button on your DualShock 4 – it’s where the Select button used to be – then choose your service and give your stream a name and even tweet out the link to bring viewers in. From there, you’re able to place a picture-in-picture overlay of your face onto the screen and speak directly to people (or not – it’s up to you), who can comment on the video service of your choice and the last two comments will show up on your screen, meaning you can converse with people watching.

This offers a great way to answer any questions about the game and just discuss things without losing focus or zoning out into a world of your own. In fact, it even paved the way for a brilliant gaming-related talk show on Twitch, named The Spartan Show. It’s a great justification for the purchase of the PlayStation Camera, and it even zooms into your face to complete the PIP look.

As well as watching these on the video services, you can select “Live from PlayStation” from the Dynamic Menu at any time – even if you’re in a game – and watch someone else play a title live. It’s sublimely integrated into the core of the system and it’s clear that Sony knew they were onto something special with this streaming push. If you’ve not got a PS4, then you can naturally watch through Twitch, but PLYSTN – designed by TSA co-founder Alex – offers a great way to view purely PlayStation streams from a PC.

shareds4

Streaming doesn’t offer the greatest video quality, and there’s a large degree of compression even when streaming at “Best”, but that’s something that’s true for all the sharing options, to make sure that the uploading experience is as quick and easy as possible. There’s definitely room for a non-compressed option down the line for higher-speed connections, which I hope is something that they’ll implement, but for now, this just works and that alone is enough.

So, beyond streaming your videos live, pressing the Share button on the controller will also let you trim and upload video clips from the last fifteen minutes of play. Currently, this only supports uploading to Facebook, but if you’re able to download the video from there, then you can upload to YouTube manually, allowing you to share your videos publicly and far more easily.

The only issue is the compression. The below video – which was initially uploaded to Facebook via the Share button, downloaded at the same resolution, and then uploaded to YouTube, which naturally brought a bit more compression into play but allowed us to easily embed the video in this post.

Now, compare that to a video of FIFA which we uploaded to SkyDrive from the Xbox One, downloaded at the same resolution, and then uploaded to YouTube and you’ll see a bit of a difference – there’s still a bit of compression in the Xbox One video below, but it’s certainly less than the PS4 upload, and viewing each outside YouTube – here for the PS4 upload on Facebook and here for the Xbox One video on SkyDrive – shows that the Xbox One videos are just that bit better.

So, don’t expect high quality video content if you’re uploading from the PS4, although it will upload very fast, and it’s a nice way of giving a general idea of something or showing off that goal on FIFA, kill on Call of Duty or a new high score on Resogun. It’s easy to trim down too and ultimately takes seconds rather than minutes, so you can resume playing in no time. There aren’t many editing features aside from trimming it down, but this is likely so you upload fast and play more. Hopefully they’ll implement an editing suite in the future. It’s still a great feature, even if the on-system upload is limited to Facebook.

Connecting to Facebook has other quirks too, such as allowing you to import details such as your profile picture and full name, as well as share certain accolades like trophy unlocks on the system. It’s not the only social network you can use however, as you’re able to share pictures along with a caption and suitable hashtag – #PS4Share – on twitter in seconds, after pressing the share button or even just shouting “take screenshot” if you’re using voice commands.

Even these images are quite compressed compared to how they look on the system, and it can hinder some games, meaning you don’t really get your point across. For example, take a look at the uploaded, unedited image of Resogun below (and click to expand). It’s not that great, despite the game being a visual treat. Unfortunately, the compression appears to take place as soon as the screenshot is taken, rather than during the upload process, so there’s no salvaging the HD screens from the depths of your PS4.

The main thing to take away from the sharing features is that you won’t be able to show anyone “how good this looks” in 1080p and there’ll often be a degree of compression involved. It’s something that makes sense in context, and the incredibly simple sharing tools really make up for it, though exporting HD images or video through a USB drive would be welcomed.

Ultimately, it’s the broadcasting that’s the system’s biggest strength, and we can’t wait to share streams of gameplay of upcoming releases with you. We’ll hopefully kick that off today, streaming some Killzone, Knack, Resogun and anything else you’d like to see – I’ll leave a comment below and update the post with the stream details once they’re ready.

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21 Comments
  1. Adam Guest
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    Like yourself, I wasn’t at all excited about this stuff until it happened, and now it’s the most exciting part of next-gen for me. Also: bloody good stuff of that PLYSTN page Alex, clean, simple, and extremely easy to use – two thumbs up.

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:10.
  2. StevenHibs
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    Excited about the streaming potential within PS4

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:12.
  3. Bilbo_bobbins
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    It was great watching you yesterday Blair, getting owned by the Killzone bots ;-)

    I’ve seen quite a few screenshots from the PS4 and looks delicious so I don’t know why this one above doesn’t look that great, either way it’s a great day for gamers.

    I’ll be using the share/stream/screenshot options on day 1, because I can and it doesn’t hinder my gaming time at all.

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:13.
  4. Tomhlord
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Apr 2009

    Wonderful, wonderful article. I have never considered streaming before, but I’m sure one of the first things I’ll so is hit that Share button…cannot wait!

    (Also, anyone notice the number of Forza 5 ads on Twitch PS4 streams. I can’t decide if that’s clever or pointing out a lacking feature on the One)

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:14.
  5. Taylor Made
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    I love the red controller, I had to pre order so now I have 3 pads lol planning to get the blue one.

    Good read, until I experience it myself I remain skeptical, I can’t see myself streaming but watching streaming when am stuck. I do like the idea of streaming the bit am stuck on & hopefully a friend helps

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:19.
    • Kennykazey
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      My consern with the coloured controllers is that it may confuse some as the system uses the colour of the light to determine player. And red player won’t always be red controller.

      Still, bring out a custom inFAMOUS or Uncharted controller and I’ll be all over it.

      Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 14:24.
      • salvodaze
        Member
        Since: Dec 2012

        I didn’t know that was the case, thanks for the info. I was going to wait for the blue controller but I might as well go for black after some reading.

        Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 17:22.
  6. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Nice series of articles on the different PS4 features, looks like the streaming is PS4’s killer app.

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:23.
  7. yd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    That PLYSTN thing is really quite nice. Nice clean, clear design that just does exactly what it should and gets you to what you want to see very quickly. Although it could do with some indication of the number of streams available for a game on the front page. Hiding the games with no streams might also sound sensible, but I guess if the lists are cached, they might be out of date and clicking on a game might actually find something by the time you do it.

    Also, the streaming quality is absolutely terrible IF you happen to be downloading this months PS+ games at the same time on both a PS3 and a Vita. So nobody try that.

    I’m less worried about the compression in that Resogun screenshot than I am about the completely excessive numbers of bits flying about. Something that seems to cause horrible issues with compression in the videos of the game. (Not surprisingly. Moving things don’t compress as well, and that game appears to have more moving things than anyone could ever dream of). Quite looking forward to seeing it properly, whenever my PS4 arrives from Amazon. Even videos and screenshots with horrible compression still manage to make it look quite nice.

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:26.
  8. blarty
    Member
    Since: Apr 2011

    The greatest compliment that can be given to a website author…

    ‘http://www.plystn.com/ – Bookmarked’

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 12:53.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      Ta. Only took about 3 hours to design and build over last weekend. Cute little experiment with Twitch’s API.

      Thanks to Davs from OneHitPixel for some visual/code tweaks, too.

      Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 13:46.
      • Bilbo_bobbins
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        well done Alex, its very cool.

        Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 16:51.
  9. DR-DAVROS
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    I jumped onto some of your streams yesterday and was impressed but less impressed with your killzone performance :)

    I have a few questions –

    When u press the share button does it drop u out game instantly or record from that point for 15 minutes? Or is the ps4 recording every 15 minutes and when pressed saves the last 15 mins to the hd. I want to understand this as take bf4 mp as an example I may do or see something I want to share but I don’t want to fall out of the game and edit the footage later to post.

    When u stream r u saying that u c the last 2 comments on screen to reply too? If there are more than 2 sent at the same time I presume some r missed?

    Thank you

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 13:10.
    • Blair Inglis
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      It essentially brings up what you can see in the first image embedded in the article, and it’s always recording the last 15 mins, which you can instantly trim down and upload.

      It just shows up comments in order of when they’re sent.

      Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 14:39.
      • DR-DAVROS
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        Thank you

        But if I’m in a game can I press the button to keep last 15 minutes without it popping anything on screen and then edit trim later. I don’t want to be editing uploading until I’ve finished playing.

        Cheers

        Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 15:11.
      • Blair Inglis
        hisnameisblair
        Since: May 2009

        It’s automatically saved as soon as you press the share button, yeah, for editing after you’re done.

        Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 15:35.
  10. Galiophaurus
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    Interestingly I seem to find the ps4 video to look better, the Xbox one seems to show more “blotches” on the pitch throughout the video

    Comment posted on 27/11/2013 at 14:37.

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